Since sopes are my most recent discovery, I couldn't resist trying them when I saw them on the menu at my neighborhood Mexican place (La Pinata: great margaritas, mediocre food).
They were somewhat different: although they were pretty chewy, the shells were raised and puffy and browned all over, as if they had been deep fried, as opposed to the ones from the taco truck which had a denser texture (like tamale masa), and were pale with only light grill marks.
Is one of these more "correct" than the other?
Taqueria Los Gallos
15828 Hesperian Blvd
San Lorenzo (by Black Angus)
Papa Pancho's Taqueria
15939 Hesperian Blvd
San Lorenzo (across from Winchell's)
19950 Hesperian Blvd
Hayward (1 block north of A St.)
I've had good sopes at all three of these. They all tended to be of the fat thick soggy taco with a certain suspicious crunchiness, variety. The charm comes in the toppings, which include but aren't limited to lettuce, tomato, onions, chiles, refritos or pintos or negritos, salsa, and meat of your choice. I've had'em with fish, prawns, pork, carne asada, "ropas viejas" (Cuban-style shredded beef, I think also called machado), also with avocado, nopales, and jicama. Try'em all!
Of the above places, La Cocina has the best bar, Papa Pancho's serves the best sopes, and Los Gallos is the best all-around taqueria, with a salsa and side-dish buffet that includes all the pickled peppers and carrots you can eat; a fine big shrimp cocktail; and fresh-squoze carrot juice.
re: Shep aka 2 Cheap Hungry Guys
On the other hand--
Just had sopes at Pepito's Deli. They were crisp and crusty, like tart shells. They were also hot, from being prepared to order. Maybe this is the way sopes are supposed to be.
The presentation was simple--carnitas, chopped endive, tomatoes, and grated fresh white cheese. Rice and refritos on the side. Sopes are also available a la carte.
2200 San Pablo Ave
Berkeley (corner of Allston)
re: Shep aka 2 Cheap Hungry Guys
Shep, my definitive sope is at La Fogata on Main St. in Oldtown Salinas. The delicate shells are fried to order, cupped and paper-thin. Yes, you can see through them. My favorite one is the carne molida (ground beef) which has a rather idiosyncratic topping of canned peas/carrots/potatoes in a tomatoey sauce, shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes, crema, salsa and white cheese.
P.S. You threw my siblings and me for a loop when you recommended corn beef hash in Salinas. While none of us live there any more, we thought we still knew about that kind of stuff. We finally figured out that it's the restaurant in the Laurel Inn, known for its big portions and buffet.
re: Melanie Wong
Wow, Melanie, thanks, now I have the perfect day in Salinas! Breakfast hash at the Black Bear, lunchtime sopes at La Fogata, and for supper--why, of course, El Pollo Loco, still my favorite after all these years. If I wait till spring, a baseball game would take it over the top. Salinas is the kind of town that baseball was invented for.
Your sopes sound like the way sopes are supposed to be. I really like the anarchic style; maybe this is the way to do leftovers. Watch for turkey sopes after Thanksgiving. Layer of mashed potatoes, a little cranberry, thin-sliced turkey, the gravy, garnish with turnip slices--we got the science!